1Tablespoonchopped fresh thyme OR 1/2 Tablespoon dried thyme
3medium baking potatoespeeled and cubed (small cubes)
Optional: 3 Tablespoons thinly sliced basil
Cook the bacon in a large (6 or 8 quart) pot over medium heat. Stir bacon occasionally and cook until crisp. Transfer to paper towels. Reserve about 3 heaping Tablespoons of the bacon for garnish, returning the remainder back to the pot.
Add butter, garlic, onions, carrots, celery, thyme, and bay leaf, to the pot. Cover and cook for about 5-7 minutes, until the onions are soft and lightly golden. Be sure to stir occasionally.
Add the corn, milk, heavy cream, and potatoes to the pot. Cover, bring to a boil, and then reduce the heat to low. Simmer for about 20-25 minutes, until the potatoes are tender, stirring occasionally.
When potatoes are tender, discard the bay leaf.
Transfer about 4-5 cups of the soup to a blender and puree. The amount you puree depends on how you prefer your chowder: puree more of the soup if you prefer a thicker, creamier chowder; puree 3-4 cups if you prefer a thin "soupier" (that's totally a word) chowder.
Pour the puree back into the chowder and stir to blend and thicken.
Garnish with bacon and, if you desire, the fresh chopped basil.
If using frozen corn kernels, thaw to room temperature before using.
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